With the African Cup of Nations qualifiers set to resume today, all eyes will be on some of the high profile players from the continent who ply their trade at the highest level in Europe. A number of those, such as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Eric Bailly of Manchester United, have struggled to find their best form so far this season.
Nevertheless, Africa has been well represented by a number of stars, who have been flying the flag with some mesmerising performances. Here are our top five best performing African players in Europe this season so far.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Arsenal)
Arsenal’s Gabonese super striker has not had as smooth a start to the season as he would have hoped for. A change in manager over the summer meant that he has had to contend with fitting into a new regime and being shunted across different positions in a new system. Despite that uncertainty, Aubameyang has finally started to find his best form, with four goals in his last five matches in the Premier League. He also helped himself to a brace in the Gunners’ opening match of their Europa League campaign against Vorskla.
François Kamano (Guinea, Bordeaux)
PSG duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappé have led the way in the scoring Ligue 1 charts this season. Both have amassed eight goals so far. Just behind them is Bordeaux youngster François Kamano, with seven goals. The 22-year old winger from Guinea has managed this feat despite playing either flank. He is also now just one goal shy from reaching the total he achieved in 35 appearances last season.
Mbwana Samatta (Tanzania, Genk)
25-year old Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta has been making waves across Europe for his performances with Belgian club Genk. Samatta joined Genk in January 2016 and has gone on to make 128 appearances for the club. It is only this season, though, that he seems to have found his very best form, with 14 goals in 16 matches in all competitions. To put that into perspective, he finished last season with a total of only eight goals.
This kind of form has seen Samatta linked with a move to the Premier League, with West Ham United, Burnley and Everton among the clubs reportedly interested.
Yunis Abdelhamid (Morocco, Reims)
It has been a very difficult start to the season for Ligue 1 side Reims as they have gone seven matches without a win. They did win their first two games of the season, but have since suffered two 4-1 defeats at the hands of Amiens and Paris Saint Germain, as well as a 1-0 loss to Montpellier last month. Quite remarkably, however, their other four games have all ended in goalless draws.
In fact, only PSG, Lille and Montpellier have conceded fewer goals in Ligue 1 than Reims’ nine. This form has been aided in great part by the form of 31-year old Moroccan defender Yunis Abdelhamid. The giant defender has averaged 2.2 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 4.9 clearances per game.
Nicolas Pépé (Ivory Coast, Lille)
Like Samatta, Nicolas Pépé of Lille is another whose performances have attracted Premier League interest. Arsenal and Manchester United are some of the clubs to have been credited with apparent interest in the 23-year old winger. Pépé has been at the centre of Lille’s brilliant form this season with six goals and six assists in nine matches to help the club rise to second place in the Ligue 1 table. If he keeps up this kind of form, it will only be a matter of time before he follows fellow countryman Gervinho’s footsteps from Lille to a more illustrious club.